Types of Milk Packaging

By E.A. West

All milk packaging must meet strict requirements for food safety. Out of the many types of packaging, only certain ones can be used for each type of milk product. Powdered milk doesn't have the same storage requirements as liquid milk, and 2-percent milk is stored differently than evaporated milk. One thing all kinds of milk packaging share is the necessity of maintaining the freshness and protecting the flavor of the milk product.

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Variety of milk containers

Paper Based

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Carton of milk added to grocery cart

Cartons made from wax or plastic coated paper board are probably one of the most widely known types of milk packaging. From school cafeterias to home kitchens, milk cartons are easily stored in the refrigerator to keep liquid milk fresh longer and come in a variety of sizes. Another paper-based package is a cardboard box, which is used for dry milk powder. Paper-based packaging is lightweight and low cost, but it's susceptible to moisture and tearing.

Plastic

Rows of plastic milk containers in supermarket
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Plastic milk containers at supermarket

Another common packaging material for milk is plastic. Whether used for jugs in various sizes or made into packets, plastic is used to hold fresh and pasteurized milk. Some of the drawbacks of plastic containers include becoming fragile at low temperatures and melting at high temperatures.

Glass

Four milk bottles in holder, close-up
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Four milk bottles in holder

A lot of times, when people think of glass milk packaging, they think of the days of milkmen delivering fresh dairy goods in glass bottles to the door early in the morning in. Glass bottles are still used today by some dairy manufacturers, although they aren't as widely used as plastic or paper-based packaging. While glass is heat resistant, it is also heavy and fragile.

Metal

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Cans of evaporated milk

Both aluminum and tin are used to make cans for milk products, such as evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Some of the advantages to using metal packaging are the strength of the material, grease-proof qualities, and the barrier properties. One drawback to aluminum is its vulnerability to acids. Tin tends to be heavy and expensive.

Wood

Barrels made from wood are used for bulk packaging of such milk products as sweetened condensed milk and buttermilk. Wooden barrels must meet high requirements for quality to avoid tainting the milk and are sometimes coated with wax or plastic to make the barrel waterproof.